Dodegeball, passelholfs and catcheroos

art of dodgeball

The speed of lazer tag, grace of ballet, and strategy of chess, converge in the surging sport that is dodgeball.

Long relegated to children’s game status, the sport has ridden a tidal wave of popularity following the movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004), starring Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller. Across the continent, thousands of adults, athletes and non-athletes alike, now play dodgeball.

Both the Toronto Sport and Social Club (TSSC) and the Toronto Dodgeball League (TDL) organize dozens of weekly league games. Tournaments with cash prizes are held throughout the year.

Teams in the professional National Dodgeball Association (NDA) and amateur National College Dodgeball Association (NCDA) play passionate games south of the border.

How to play

Teams include six players with at least two girls a side.  To start the game, four foam balls are placed on the centre line of the gymnasium, while each team gets set at their respective end.  Players must be touching the wall until the “one-two-three dodgeball” command starts the action.

Knowing when to throw, catch and dodge is essential to dodgeball success.  Throw balls together with teammates (when possible) at an agreed upon opponent to maximize offense.  Getting hit anywhere on your body, except the head, eliminates you.  Catching a ball eliminates the thrower.  If you drop it, take a seat.  Catching a ball also returns an eliminated teammate to the game.  The first team to eliminate all players on the other team wins.  Repeat.

How to win

  • Stay calm, yet appear aggressive
  • Always know where all of the balls are
  • Catch only what you can
  • Pace yourself. Games last one hour
  • Throw balls simultaneously with your teammates
  • Throw low. Aim for below the belt
  • Guard your groin
  • Stay well back of the centre line when without a ball
  • Play fun and fair
  • Celebrate whether you win or lose


How to speak the language

Passelholf – make an unexpected pass to a teammate in a better position to hit an opponent.  The move is named after the infamous David Hasselholf for all of his unexpected moves in the post Bay-watch era.

Sparta – those of you who have seen the movie 300 (2007), about the battle of Thermopylae between the Spartans and Persians, will remember when one warrior jumps off the back of his countryman in order to spear an enemy from above. Replace spear with dodgeball.

Catcheroo – eliminate an opponent by catching his or her ball.

Low ‘n Hard – throw low and hard because it is most difficult to catch.

Seal ‘n Wax – run and slide on your belly (like a seal), waxing the floor in the process, to avoid incoming attack.

Run ‘n Gun – surprise your opponent by releasing your throw while running toward him or her.

Tiny Tim – make yourself a tiny target by getting down on your knees as far back on your side of the gym as possible, putting greater distance between you and an opponent’s throw.

Shrinking Violet – a form of surrender or brain cramp in which one submits to certain death by freezing up or giving up in the face of an overwhelming offensive onslaught.

High Noon Draw – opponents throw and get hit at the same time, resulting in equal and opposite deaths.

Regina Rainbow – Lob a ball high in the air to the opposing side as a distraction.  When the opponent focuses attention to catch it, another teammate throws a bullet toss in the same direction, getting him or her out.  Named sarcastically by Toronto Dodgers, who wonder if there’s anything to do in Regina, but wait and watch for rainbows.

About Chris LePan

Writer/ Editor
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